Only child: Alice EVANS (1876 - 1973)

  Eight Late Victorian Families ©2010-2017 Rosemary & Stan Rodliffe

Kettering life

In early 19th Century Kettering unemployment was widespread and poverty dominated life. Fortunes began to improve in the 1850's with the growth of the footwear industry and the arrival of the Midland Railway in 1857. The town received a boost in late 1870 when it won a share of the orders for boots placed by the French Army for the war with Prussia. By the time that Alice was born in 1876 the town was enjoying a period of rapid growth which remained unchecked until the 1890's.

Alice's mother: Louisa LOASBY (1860 - 1945)

Louisa Loasby

Louisa was the eldest of ten children (five brothers and three sisters) born to Warren Foxwell LOASBY and Elizabeth nee WYKES. Warren was a shoemaker journeyman at the time of Louisa's birth in 1860 and twenty years later he had become manager in a boot factory. By the time of the 1881 Census, Louisa had left home but the rest of the family were still together at 1 Upper Field, surrounded by families of shoe rivetters, machinists and finishers. Most of her brothers and sisters were at school but brothers Frank and Arthur, aged 18 and 15, were working as a clicker in a boot factory and a boot rivetter. The family had a visitor: Louisa EVANS, aged 24 from Ross, who was most likely Albert's sister!

Alice's birth was registered in Louisa's surname and no father was recorded on the birth certificate. She looked upon Albert EVANS as her true father. We have not yet confirmed her father but there is circumstantial evidence pointing to William Henry BILLSON, a grocer's assistant with whom Louisa had a dalliance at the time.

"My Granny (Louisa Howes) was very tall ( about 5'11"). She used to cross the road by walking to the side of the road, raising her walking cane to stop the traffic (a few cars and horses and carts), and then cross over. I used to visit her throughout the week. She had beautifully long hair to her waist and I remember brushing it for her because she had arthritis in her arms. She used to make beautiful bread into little twists and hot from the oven and with butter which we used to enjoy very much. I can remember my mother telling me that Granny Howes used to pay 1 penny per week for her to go to school. Granny Howes was lovely." [HDR]

Albert J EVANS (1859 - 1893) and John William "Nunc" HOWES

Louisa's first husband was Albert, born at Ross-on-Wye in Herefordshire, the son of Henry EVANS, a jobbing gardener. His mother, Mercy née CLEAVER, was born at Tetbury in Gloucestershire; she was widowed by 1881 but still living at Ross with Albert's younger brother Edwin, a bootmaker then aged 19, and Albert Cookley, a ten year old adoptee.

Albert, Louisa and Alice were living at Grange Road in 1881. Louisa is recorded as a shoe machinist. Albert EVANS was working as an engine fitter; perhaps he had started work on the railway at Ross and had moved to Kettering in search of work. He died when Alice was in her teens.

"Granny Howes had a small business connected with the 'finishing' of shoes - I think this was called 'closing' of shoes. Granny Howes' second husband was William Howes. We used to call him 'Nunc'. Nunc was a leather dresser from Northampton. I assume that Granny met Nunc through her business. The 'shop' at the end of the garden in 36 Dryden Street was a common feature of the terraced houses in the area. I think many of them were used for carrying on small businesses. I imagine that when 'Grandpa' Evans died Granny Howes probably moved in with my mother in Dryden Street and then operated the small business from the 'shop'. Nunc was a bit of a drinker and I think that resulted in the demise of Granny's business." [HDR]